Students Graduate from MSU’s First Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

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Back in September 2012, Montana State University’s (MSU) Board of Regents decided to expand the school’s College of Nursing by creating its first Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. And by Fall 2013, DNP students were able to enroll in the program under one of two specialty pathways: Nurse Practitioner, Family/Individual or Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric/Mental Health.

MSU’s landmark decision to open the doctoral degree program was especially visionary because until then, no DNP programs existed in the entire state of Montana. Now, in the spring of 2016, MSU is happy to announce that eight students have successfully graduated from its DNP program.

According to the dean of the MSU College of Nursing Helen Melland, the university hoped that students graduating from the DNP program would remain in Montana to help alleviate the state’s growing need for health care providers.

Melland has been quoted as saying, “All of Montana is considered a medically underserved state. Studies show that most nurses tend to stay in their communities, and these students are currently living in various locations throughout Montana, so we expect that these nurse will become [primary] health care providers throughout the state.”

In order to better accommodate students with hectic work schedules or commuting conflicts, MSU designed its DNP program with a largely distance learning format. In fact, all courses are accessible online via videoconference and/or teleconference. The program’s clinical learning component is incorporated through a faculty-assisted scholarly project. Examples of past scholarly projects include developing community outreach programs, establishing support groups, and forming school-based clinics.

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All in all, students enrolled in the DNP program are required to successfully complete 83 academic credits with at least a 3.0 GPA and fulfill 1,125 hours of clinical work to graduate.

Students interested in MSU’s doctoral program can choose between five different degree tracks:

  • BSN to DNP: NP Family/Individual (3-year)
  • BSN to DNP: NP Family/Individual (4-year)
  • BSN to DNP: NP Psych/Mental Health (3-year)
  • BSN to DNP: NP Psych/Mental Health (4-year)
  • MN to DNP